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Supermarket Chain Delhaize Forces Franchisers To Sell Food Products Below Cost

Tyler Durden's picture


The latest inflation fighting strategy in a world that has now completely forgotten the threat of "disinflation", and instead is relishing 30 year highs in sugar and 150 year highs in cotton, comes from Belgium where supermarket chain Delhaize has been exposed as coercing 120 franchisers to sell products at a loss. As a result, said franchisers, formerly on very good terms with the supermarket operator, have organized themselves into an interest group with its own steering committee to make their grievances heard. And while the outcome of this escalation will certainly not be pleasant for any of the parties involved, one thing is certain: prices at both Delhaize supermarkets, and Belgian competitors who follow suit, are about to surge as retailers have no choice but to seek avoiding bankruptcy through reindexing prices. Which makes us wonder just how many supermarket stores and grocery retailer in the US use comparable tactics? But have no fear: according to the CPI, food inflation in December at 0.1% was the lowest it has been in five months. And with nobody having the guts to tell Bernanke that the food emperor is completely naked, we are 100% confident that everyone in America will be able to afford the 0.1% increase in food prices.

More details form Retail Detail, Google translated:

Delhaize Over 120 disgruntled franchisees have formed an association to Delhaize together to express their grievances dramatic drop in gross margins. According to independent supermarket owners, they are from the central even forced to sell certain products below cost. Is simply not true, however, respond Delhaize. It came VTM journalist Patrick Van Gompel heard that franchise stores by Delhaize Group are required to sell products at a loss . Partly for that reason decided to self-AD Delhaize supermarket operators last fall that it was time to organize themselves into an interest group. The founders believed that the network of Delhaize affiliates so extensive that it was high time to group them.

The association also calls on all partners Delhaize Delhaize franchisees also to join the grouping. Even if it only temporarily to Dutch franchisees.

Some involved weekly managers inform retail detail dozens of products with a negative margin to be sold. This week would be an estimated one to twenty products.

The way the margin reductions are imposed from above, both through content and through adjustments to price changes. If content changes are weighing changes with product packaging such bigger or smaller quantities at the same price offered at lower prices.

In one sample came to the observations that some drinks this week striking yield low margins. This week, the margin of Delhaize supermarket owners on a bottle of Johnny Walker whiskey brand from a mere 1.84%. Duvel on a tank, the entrepreneurs then a 3% margin, while a Jupiler cook a margin of 0.4% is bad.

More generally, margins of independent Delhaize supermarket managers under severe pressure. Chris Opdebeeck showed in its annual study of the mass distribution itself, that the margins of franchise owners between 2007 and 2008 have fallen significantly. By the price action of the supermarket chains are the profit margins of the supermarket owners under heavy pressure.

According to the supermarket owners, the entire margin in ten years time 10%. This while the margin to be abandoned, for participation in transportation costs such as publicity and participation, in the same period rose 5%. The loss amounted to gross margin throughout the past ten years a total of 5%. In other words, 5% less income.

And if franchisers are hurting, with their limited cost exposure, one can imagine how much pain the independents must be in:

One might wonder why only the franchisees face these problems. After all, everybody struggles with pressure on gross margins due to rising costs and a negative pricing environment? Independent supermarket owners are black sheep in the current distribution landscape since they have no way at the low cost infrastructure of other great players can. Their cost structure is simply much higher.

Competitor eminently Colruyt Benefit already lower fixed costs. Colruyt example, plays no music in stores, making it Sabam not have to pay, and did not even have to paint parking stripes. All costs are really reduced to a minimum. Paradoxically, this rudimentary equipment Colruyt's image as the cheapest only benefit.

The threat of an imminent price war is the catalyst that made everyone realize that losing money is not a workable business model:

The problem of declining margins is not new. Pressure on food prices despite soaring commodity prices and operating costs over many years ensure that pressure is on the gross margin of supermarket owners. Especially the last five years it is becoming worse. The reason the bomb just now beginning to crack , however, is simple.

The arrival of Albert Heijn supermarket operators entails the wits. What if Albert Heijn truly unleashes a price war? What if Albert Heijn is frontally compared Colruyt place? Colruyt can not afford their claim to be the cheapest failing to meet ...

Albert Heijn manages his usual low prices by pushing on the Belgian market, the local supermarkets the biggest victims. Not only the plant will bleed, the local entrepreneur. And playing with his family.

If their income now so on the slope, what will they still remains? The franchisees of AD Delhaize may not have dreamed.

It's a good thing that Belgians are so much better at having a stable and democratic government than their Egyptian peers or else someone could say that buying the Belgian CDS dip could be the best thing to happen to nominal prices since Ben Bernanke discovered the toner cartridge.

h/t Jonas


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Wed, 02/02/2011 - 21:53 | Link to Comment Rahm
Rahm's picture

Negative margins bitches!

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:01 | Link to Comment Oracle of Kypseli
Oracle of Kypseli's picture

What is predictable is that in countries where more than 85% of the population spends 85% of their income on food will explode first. The US will be the last one standing. But......revolution will not be avoided.

Act accordingly.   

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:02 | Link to Comment Rahm
Rahm's picture

Beans, bullets, and band-aids.  Bitches!!!

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:50 | Link to Comment SilverRhino
SilverRhino's picture

Beans, bullets, and band-aids.  Bitches!!!  ... and bullion ...

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:56 | Link to Comment gorillaonyourback
gorillaonyourback's picture

maybe our fat ass citizens will loose a little weight eating beans, including me.  oh we can all stuff hoses up our asses and burn the gas for heat in the winter time

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 02:12 | Link to Comment TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

There is no way this is possible. Bernanke assured Scott Pelley on '60 Minutes' that he will stop inflation within 15 minutes at its first sighting. He pinky swore. I trust in Ben Bernanke. He is Amerika's great Keynesian hope.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:15 | Link to Comment Michael
Michael's picture

The war mongers on TV will tell you to fear Muslim ideology and Israel is in danger. I'm getting sick and tired of this BULLSHIT!

Let me set you strait right now on that issue.



Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:22 | Link to Comment Tuco Benedicto ...
Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez's picture

Yes, they've gotten a lot of mileage by playing the victim!  And, they stole the nuke technology from us but we must forgive them for they know not what they do!  Seriously, the Israelis only want one thing, the land next to that which they already own.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:55 | Link to Comment Michael
Michael's picture

Egyptians should make lots of signs and get them on TV that say;

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 23:54 | Link to Comment Montgomery Burns
Montgomery Burns's picture

Ok, Ok, Ok. Israel has nukes.  How many fucking threads are you gonna post the exact same off topic comments in?

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 00:29 | Link to Comment Michael
Michael's picture

Till I see and hear it on TV.

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 01:52 | Link to Comment Mr Poopra
Mr Poopra's picture

The Arab world has been shouting for the last 40 years that the only way to end the tension in the Middle East is for Israel to leave the illegally occupied territories and revert to the pre 1967 borders.  That's it.  Anyone stating anything to the contrary is not looking for peace or truth, they are ideologues looking for excuses to justify outrageous military spending.  As a Jew, i'm ashamed of the illegal and racist regime known as Israel.

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 04:31 | Link to Comment sushi
sushi's picture

Brave man.


My understanding is that there is a significant part of the population of Israel that dislikes the current policies of Israel. Somehow these voices are not heard; they certainly are not reflected in western media in which a neo-con right wing view dominates with no indication of any counter currents at all.

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 01:37 | Link to Comment Michael
Michael's picture

Be aware of the American MSM brainwashing tactic, and conditioning you TO REPEAT WHAT THEY ARE SAYING WHEN OUR TIME COMES.

On every channel they are repeating over and over again;



Fri, 02/04/2011 - 20:35 | Link to Comment bank guy in Brussels
bank guy in Brussels's picture

Feels much cheaper to eat well in Europe, than it did when I lived in the USA some years back. We grow much food locally here, and our quality standards are quite higher.

And speaking of quality food, Delhaize among their house brands here in Belgium, has some quite favoured and drinkable Bordeaux for only €2,39 per full bottle! ... Hope that was not among the 'forced below cost' items which will now be re-priced.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 23:14 | Link to Comment hamurobby
hamurobby's picture


 ..price controls..

We are on our way to never ever land.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 21:54 | Link to Comment sysin3
sysin3's picture

Lose money on every sale, but make it up on volume.

Hell yeah !!

Oh, wait ....

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 03:55 | Link to Comment faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

no, no,'s velocity. You sell the stuff so fast, it goes back in time, and negative margins become positive.

Or something like that.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 21:57 | Link to Comment steveo
steveo's picture

Costco is way up, up 10% to 20% in 6 months.  At least in Hawaii.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 21:57 | Link to Comment Bubbles...bubbl...
Bubbles...bubbles everywhere's picture

Oh dear, I hope the Belgium government does something to stop this.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:00 | Link to Comment Bearster
Bearster's picture

Yup that makes sense.  It always works to have the government make a whole bunch of new rules, in backroom deals with certain interest groups.  Then the government forces those rules onto unwilling parties by force.  And this will "fix" everything?

Folks, nothing is going to get better--it will get worse--so long as this mentality persists!

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:03 | Link to Comment Oracle of Kypseli
Oracle of Kypseli's picture

Selling below cost is against the law in most countries as it can be used to bankrupt the weaker competitors.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:40 | Link to Comment hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture

Lucky fuckers.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:51 | Link to Comment gorillaonyourback
gorillaonyourback's picture


Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:55 | Link to Comment impending doom
impending doom's picture

We pay to be raped, they still pay for nothing. You didn't think they'd stop tax collections during gov't stoppage, did ya?

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 06:05 | Link to Comment Hephasteus
Hephasteus's picture

So they got 30,000 idiots in belgium who want to form a government?

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:19 | Link to Comment umop episdn
umop episdn's picture

No need. The 'free' market will decline, a black market will grow, and the store shelves will be empty in no time at all.

Fri, 02/04/2011 - 07:59 | Link to Comment Freewheelin Franklin
Freewheelin Franklin's picture

Smart ass. Belgium doesn't have a government. :D

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:12 | Link to Comment gridlocked
gridlocked's picture

Burger King was doing the same thing with the $1 double cheeseburger till franchises threatened to sue. Now the $1 double only has one slice of cheese.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 23:12 | Link to Comment A_MacLaren
A_MacLaren's picture

Ummm...  That's not cheese, its a cheesy-food-type-product, sort-of... 

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 23:39 | Link to Comment RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

Put it this way, if the burger were put in a 100 year time capsule, the only thing that would survive would be that piece of "cheese".   They use the same material in liquid form on those ballpark nachos.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 23:52 | Link to Comment Common_Cents22
Common_Cents22's picture

BK rocks!  You can even use the cheese as caulking to seal up your windows, around tubs and sinks.

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 04:23 | Link to Comment A Nanny Moose
A Nanny Moose's picture

Don't get caulkey

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 21:59 | Link to Comment mt paul
mt paul's picture

miserable margin... 

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:00 | Link to Comment Mad Mad Woman
Mad Mad Woman's picture

Delhaize is just trying to do what Wal-Mart does. If it works for Wal-Mart it should work for anybody, right?

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:03 | Link to Comment baddress
baddress's picture

Michelle Obama is already forcing Walmart to sell veggies and healthy food below cost lest they face strict government oversight and health regulations.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 23:41 | Link to Comment RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

How does that "forcing" thing work?  Got a link to the legal or coercive tactics she is using, and how she got legislative power?  Thanks in advance for your thoughtful reply.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 23:53 | Link to Comment Common_Cents22
Common_Cents22's picture

I never heard of this either, would not be like forcing people to buy health insurance or anything.

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 00:10 | Link to Comment Calmyourself
Calmyourself's picture

You got union problems, I can take care of them for ya... 

Obama and Walmart and of course Janet "the man" Napolitano have an accommodation of sorts.  They don't shove unions down Walmarts throat and Walmart uses their reach into trailer park America and does the "health experts" bidding. 

How do you think the worlds newest health expert; Mrs. Obama got Walmart to play ball?  A thoughtful explanation would be appreciated

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:00 | Link to Comment dynomutt
dynomutt's picture

Yay, Hannaford!

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:03 | Link to Comment traderjoe
traderjoe's picture

Do the Belgians have a government? ;)

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:13 | Link to Comment TunaBear
TunaBear's picture

No we don't :) But that's a good thing right? ;).

Food for thought: In Egypt, Tunesia,... people are getting on the streets to throw off government, but in here in Belgium, people gathered for the exact opposite reason!


If you want a little grasp of how complicated governmental things here really are:

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:03 | Link to Comment Misean
Misean's picture

Can't they just make up the loss by buying their own stock? Uncle Benny says so...

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:05 | Link to Comment HungrySeagull
HungrySeagull's picture

The United States Grocery and Food prices have gone up so much that the official CPI for whatever purpose is null and void full of bull.

I have a shelf with 6 coffee cans on it. I buy when I see em on sale. By the end of the year I expect to have 24 on that shelf ready to go when a can of coffee raises retail from 13.50 to 40.00 can.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:47 | Link to Comment glenlloyd
glenlloyd's picture

problem with that is good coffee...freshly roasted...only really lasts a couple weeks before it isn't so good any more.

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 00:31 | Link to Comment Calmyourself
Calmyourself's picture

Look it can be chicory and ground up asphalt as long as it has caffeine, I' m addicted and my name is John....  Hi John, donuts are in the back..

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:11 | Link to Comment Atomizer
Atomizer's picture

How to maximize the smaller, more expensive roll of toilet paper.

Sheryl Crow One Tissue Wiping Training Film

Sorry, couldn't resist.


Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:41 | Link to Comment Problem Is
Problem Is's picture

"Are you strong enough to be my fan...?"

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:14 | Link to Comment benb
benb's picture

I started reading this and thought I was losing my mind for a second, choppy, it just didn’t read right then I looked back –‘Google translated:’

The reason the bomb just now beginning to crack , however, is simple…”

It’s happening again. Simple to whom? Must be Google psy-op.(HeHeHe)

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 01:00 | Link to Comment Antipodeus
Antipodeus's picture

Yes, I was wondering myself what language it had been translated into.  Wonder how it would do with Shakespeare or the Bible.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:15 | Link to Comment papaswamp
papaswamp's picture

My favorite food group bacon has seen a 25% increase in the last 4's depressing.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:16 | Link to Comment TunaBear
TunaBear's picture

Don't know what products it is about, but I'm enjoying my cheap multivitamine fruit juice at the moment, bought this afternoon at Delhaize :) Thank you Delhaize! ...?

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:22 | Link to Comment bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

I have enough balls to tell Bernanke he's naked. Anyone have a phone number/e-mail?

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 23:22 | Link to Comment impending doom
impending doom's picture

Why don't you ask del?

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:28 | Link to Comment PulauHantu29
PulauHantu29's picture

My Grandparents are pissed that there was no SS increase since The Bernank kept the Bogus CPI at near zero while thier food, medical expenses, transportation, etc rose about 18%.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:34 | Link to Comment bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

Make sure you foward your grievences to Obama. He will give you the change you can believe in.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:37 | Link to Comment Misean
Misean's picture

Pre 1966 dimes would be fine with me.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 23:11 | Link to Comment CynicLaureate
CynicLaureate's picture

If you're dime says 1965, it's probably not silver.

You mean "pre-1965".

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:38 | Link to Comment oddjob
oddjob's picture

Sitting on his lazy ass watching hoop and smoking are right, that is change.

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 03:00 | Link to Comment Mr Poopra
Mr Poopra's picture

Rumors in Chicago are that he also enjoys receiving fellatio from older white men.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:38 | Link to Comment Quaderratic Probing
Quaderratic Probing's picture

People on SS are supposed to replace expensive food with cheaper alternates... like dirt or bits of cardboard

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:38 | Link to Comment dick cheneys ghost
dick cheneys ghost's picture

UN warns food prices could rise 40% in the next decade

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:43 | Link to Comment hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture

That is mostly due to AAPLs?

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:44 | Link to Comment hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture

dupe.  It' s the booze, you know.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:54 | Link to Comment Misean
Misean's picture

Mmmm...APPL cider

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 22:49 | Link to Comment traderjoe
traderjoe's picture

Do the Belgians have a government? ;)

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 23:08 | Link to Comment almost_have_a_name
almost_have_a_name's picture

Its good to see the Belgium people see the results of the high priest's handwork.

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 23:35 | Link to Comment Mr. Mandelbrot
Mr. Mandelbrot's picture

Fire the translator!!!  My head hurts . . .

Wed, 02/02/2011 - 23:53 | Link to Comment Dr. Porkchop
Dr. Porkchop's picture

It's going to be interesting to see how long discounter Walmart can keep up the low prices in the face of this. Once you take away the low prices, what are you left with?



Sat, 02/05/2011 - 00:48 | Link to Comment HungrySeagull
HungrySeagull's picture

Desiel fuel at 250 gallons a fillup times 14.00 a gallon.


That will stop walmart faster than anything.

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 00:11 | Link to Comment redarrow
redarrow's picture

Ben bernakes new title should be Chairman of Food Riots Corp.

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 00:43 | Link to Comment fasTTcar
fasTTcar's picture


Thu, 02/03/2011 - 00:50 | Link to Comment M4570D0N
M4570D0N's picture

Fear not! The new EPA regulations on spilled milk, err, "oil," for farmers and ranchers is about to start being enforced.

Two weeks ago, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized a rule that subjects dairy producers to the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure program, which was created in 1970 to prevent oil discharges in navigable waters or near shorelines. Naturally, it usually applies to oil and natural gas outfits. But the EPA has discovered that milk contains "a percentage of animal fat, which is a non-petroleum oil," as the agency put it in the Federal Register.


In other words, the EPA thinks the next blowout may happen in rural Vermont or Wisconsin. Other dangerous pollution risks that somehow haven't made it onto the EPA docket include leaks from maple sugar taps and the vapors at Badger State breweries.


The EPA rule requires farms—as well as places that make cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream and the like—to prepare and implement an emergency management plan in the event of a milk catastrophe. Among dozens of requirements, farmers must train first responders in cleanup protocol and build "containment facilities" such as dikes or berms to mitigate offshore dairy slicks.

I can't see this impacting food prices in any possible way. nope.

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 05:19 | Link to Comment Moonrajah
Moonrajah's picture

Oh, shit, I've just spilled some milk accidentally. Someone, gimme a hazmat suit and send a CDC-team pronto!

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 06:10 | Link to Comment Hephasteus
Hephasteus's picture

Just don't cry. Don't you dare cry fucker. Hold it back.

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 07:02 | Link to Comment Freewheelin Franklin
Freewheelin Franklin's picture

If you spilled it outside on the ground, you better get a backhoe and a dump trunk and find a landfill that will take toxic waste, and start digging.

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 06:34 | Link to Comment sensei
sensei's picture

I thought for sure you must have mistaken a story from The Onion for actual news.  I can't believe that is legitimate.  Just more proof that elections barely matter anymore.  Even if Jesus ran the White House the unelected bureaucrats would still regulate us into oblivion.

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 07:11 | Link to Comment Freewheelin Franklin
Freewheelin Franklin's picture

Hmm. Do you think this will help prevent smaller competitors from entering the market? Even if there is an exemption for the smaller producers, what happens when they begin nearing the limit? Slow down production, or face the added regulations.




Forgive them Uncle Milty, they know not......ah fuck it. They know exactly what they are doing.


It's too late to work within the system, and too soon to shoot the bastards.


- Claire Wolfe

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 02:37 | Link to Comment Clowns to the l...
Clowns to the left_ jokers to the right's picture

The main chains around us here in the South Bend, IN area are a private one, Martin's and Kroger. Martin's prices have been relatively stable but Kroger has been raising prices noticeably for awhile now, including their store brands.

Here are the net profit margins for some chains I looked up: SuperValu Inc comprised of Acme and other chains: -3.96%; Safeway: -3.12% ; Winn-Dixie: 0%; Kroger: 1.36%; Costco: 1.73%; Whole Foods: 2.73% and Walmart: 3.73%. A&P with its other chains filed for bankruptcy in December. Kroger's and Costco's margins aren't fantastic but profit is still profit. The first three though, ick. Looks like it's already time to start cutting fat and/or raising prices.

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 06:57 | Link to Comment Freewheelin Franklin
Freewheelin Franklin's picture

Acme, A.K.A. Albertson's is doing poorly. They just closed one near me that has only been open a few years. Shop-Rite put them out of business. Shop-Rite is an interesting business model, by today's standard. They are a co-op of private retailers that are supplied by the parent corporation, Wakefern. The individual owners have the freedom to adjust their stores to meet the needs of the surrounding community. In fact, one is owned by a medium sized produce grower, with farms in S. Jersey and Florida. They are able to sell the produce they grow, in their Shop-Rite.

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 04:30 | Link to Comment koeleköpke
koeleköpke's picture

it's all bullshit !

food salesprices in Belgium are made by the german discounter Aldi. Delhaize always has been an expensive luxury store.

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 04:37 | Link to Comment Sudden Debt
Sudden Debt's picture




In Belgium inflation index was 2.78% on jan. 1


And then this moron who downplays inflations. Trichet.... More Like Trichér


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